Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moving!

This blog has moved to http://erinstocks.com/.  Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Be thine own palace, or the world's thy jail." - John Donne

As I seem to be trending blog posts on Tuesday, here we are, although I forgot to upload my pictures as I couldn't get up early enough for the gym - the goslings and the weekend trip will have to wait.

Another 1k words on the SF short today including a lot of deleting. Currently, it sits at 4,148 words. Both good and ugly things are happening in it, writing-wise, and I'm trying to let the ugly alone until at least the second draft; so far, the smoothing out I've tried to do has resulted in even more awkward dialogue and choppy, unhappy women. But there's a lot of firsts for me in this one: a same-sex relationship, a Lovecraft/Kiernan-inspired monster, and a barely-oxygenated planet, so I'm cutting myself some slack. 

I started Barker's Books of Blood last night - I can't wait for more. Also, still working my way through the Datlow anthology, but spending the weekend in Houston took a good chunk of reading time away. The good news: more thyroid meds & progesterone, so hopefully that will help!

Yesterday I found a tick on my ribcage while I was changing for a run. I haven't had a tick on me since I was about twelve years old - us kids used to get at least one a summer, maybe more, from the woods, but I wasn't impressed at all, so I drove home as quickly as I could for John to remove it. As I tried to keep from panicking that there was a parasitic creature wedging its head inside me, I realized that I had plenty of blood. In fact, the little guy saw me as a warm, useful habitat that offered nutrition and safety (because if it had known what I intended for it, would it really have latched on?) What if I named it? It could be a fantastic story: the woman and her pet tick. (Although a more original title would be necessary.)

The story ended when John pulled it out with the tweezers and flushed it.

We watched the second season of Dollhouse : refreshing in that there were less "What is the Dollhouse?" and "Why does the Dollhouse exist?" questions, that drove me batshit crazy, and a few great oh shit moments that we didn't expect. The post-apocalyptic ending, though....meh. I felt a little let down.

Speaking of oh shit moments, I made the mistake (or was it?) of looking up what happens in Game of Thrones. Those are some big oh shit moments coming up.

I wish Clarion would get here faster.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Belief creates the actual fact." - William James

Mother's Day has come and gone, which I'm glad for. Not nearly as traumatizing this year as last, which was the first without Mom; proof it does get easier, I suppose. And tomorrow I turn another year older. Never thought I'd be one of those people that bitch and moan about growing older, but turns out I am. Also, chances are very good I wrote this in a blog last year around my birthday. Perhaps I shall keep saying that every year from now out. 

Last night I read "The Will and Testament of Jacqueline Ess," a story from the Books of Blood collection by Clive Barker reprinted in a Datlow anthology I purchased some time back, and finally picked up off my floor. I was completely and utterly blown away, perhaps because it reminded me that that's what I need to do with Harvester the book, and because of the way he wrote certain passages, the beauty and horror of what was happening, yet the grace of the words. In my friend (and esteemed writing peer) Steve's words, "Beautiful and incisive and searing, rather than just scary or fun or gross." Which means I'm going to Barnes and Noble at lunch today to buy the Books of Blood volumes.

I meant to dither on about "Slobby Noes" a few days ago, the Veganomicon recipe with lentils instead of meat, but I forgot, and then didn't take pictures, either. But highly, highly recommended. Lentils are seriously a wonder food. If you do them right.

My death knight is nearly level 70. I'm so terrible at it that it's almost comical. But its very fun, too, having AoE abilities like Blood Boil, and Death and Decay. I'll get better at it, I hope. And learn how to tank. And perhaps get a new chest-piece, since Derne's current one doesn't appear to offer much protection...


Although Beris, my undead shadow priest, is pretty decked out. 


She's got all Bloodthirsty Gladiator's gear, although I'm slowly collecting pieces of Vicious gear. Because, this is important stuff.

We've started season 2 of Dollhouse while we wait for Deadwood discs in the mail. It's not bad, although I liked Eliza Dushku better as Faith.

And now I have a chapter to rewrite.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." - Maya Angelou

While the title can see a little dramatic out of context, consider it after reading Kij Johnson's "Story Kit," in Eclipse 4. Breathtaking.

I am even more excited than ever for her Clarion week.

(Oh, the Kiernan is marvelous, too, but I had read that before in a Sirena Digest. No less stunning the second time around, though.)

That is all. Now back to the SF short I'm trying to finish, although I keep sabotaging myself with Words with Friends matches.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." -Toni Morrison

I'm catching up on my reading, and can check Joe Hill's Horns off the list. A fascinating idea, and quite well written; a few parts made me feel a little ill, and I think I actually had nightmares from it one night. However, the more Ig transformed into the devil the less interesting the book was to me; the momentum seemed to peter out. But his relationship with Merrin was heartbreaking, as was what happened to her, and while I have more thoughts, I don't want to ruin it for anyone, as it's indeed a book to read and buy.

Next to buy will be his short story collection, and Mira Grant's Deadline. Oh, and Genevieve Valentine's Mechanique, both of which I believe come out next week? In the meantime, Valentine has a story up from her Tresaultiverse at Fantasy Magazine. Sometimes the way she phrases things reminds me of early Tanith Lee, which of course I love. But since those aren't out yet, I've just received in the mail Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels, and Jonathan Strahan's Eclipse 4 and Engineering Infinity. The Lanagan comes first, although I still have collections by E. Bear and Karen Joy Fowler and the Grace Krilonovich waiting.

But the real reason for this post is Eric Gregory's "The Harrowers," which starts off Lightspeed's issue 12. Post-apocalyptia and zombie bears, with a gun-touting preacher man! Gregory is definitely a writer to keep an eye on.

And a bit randomly, I found 1k + words on Harvester the book last night, which was so exciting. I'm ready for more, but Heloise is jockying with a new little SF short that unwound itself over the weekend, so we'll see who wins out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"He that would live in peace and at ease must not speak all he knows or sees." - Benjamin Franklin

With the title quote in mind, here are two things, no, three:

I finished Daryl Alexander's Pandemonium, which was a delightful read. Thoroughly engrossing from the first page, intriguing, accessible, without an extra word anywhere, yet not sacrificing in lyricism. His first novel, too. I wasn't very fond of the way things wrapped up - it felt completely different than the direction the first 3/4ths of the novel took - but I still recommend the book, very much so. It encouraged me, too, because it made Harvester the book so much more possible. I also realized that I try too hard in writing this book. I make too much effort, when really, I should let the action carry itself. It took a large weight off my shoulders when I realized that (for probably the umpteenth time, so hopefully I can remember it...), and I'm actually excited to get back to the book today.

Oh! And my interview with Elizabeth Bear is up on Lightspeed today! Go read. She's a very interesting woman, and an excellent author. (I'm quite looking forward to her week at Clarion this summer.) Also, her tweets are most enjoyable.

And then to end on a downer, Kitty has been in the hospital for 4 days, although I'll hopefully be able to pick him up later today. It's kind of devastated me, not having him at home; even with the demanding and affectionate dogs, there's a big gap without him. Buddy couldn't care less that he's gone, but I think Nellie know's something's up; she keeps roaming around, looking for him, and whining when she can't find him.

But oh, there was a very adorable moment with the dogs. Actually, it lasted nearly thirty minutes, while we watched Game of Thrones on Sunday night:


Buddy was too comfortable to care that Nellie was sleeping on top of him; usually he grunts or growls and then gets up. And look how big Nellie is! She's so unbelievably cute, and floppy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Welcome to the Greenhouse review


I've subscribed to Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, edited by Gordon Van Gelder, for some time now, and while I've flat out loved several issues in the past, lately the stories haven't been per my tastes, which, in all fairness, has fluctuated greatly in the last few years. In attempting to hammer out the reasons why (and why that market is so hard to break into), I've come to the conclusion that I love misdirection. There's nothing more compelling and memorable for me personally than a story that goes one way and then wham! hits you with all its got, in a completely new direction. Or, I'm great if the direction is predictable, but there's an emotional bang for the buck. (Take, for instance, a story I commented on a few blogs back, in Strahan's Best of SFF Volume 5, and originally, Subterranean: the Maureen McHugh. Not only was I shocked about halfway through at the main character's actions, but I was horrified at the person he was, and that I'd "liked" him in the first half of the story. And then this..! Also, from Black Static issue 18, a story that I will likely never forget: Mercurio D. Rivera's "Tu Sufrimento Shall Protect Us." As this SF Signal review said, one of the best of the year.)

But those kinds of stories, with misdirection, don't appear often in F&SF, and so I wasn't sure what to expect with the new Van Gelder-edited anthology released by O/R Books, Welcome to the Greenhouse. Marketed as science fiction on climate change, two things I happen to be very interested in, I've now happily dog-eared and folded it up, and I consider it a boost to my anthology collection.

The stories cover a variety of positions regarding climate change: eminent change, change currently taking place, post-change, etc, and do an excellent job at avoiding any hitting on political views with hammers of authority. The result is a thought-provoking collection, although it leans to the grimmer side (which I found appropriate). The authors include many familiar to the SF world, such as Bruce Sterling, Alan Dean Foster, Mathew Hughes, and Paul Di Fillippo, and some I've never heard of, including Michael Alexander and Chris Lawson. Out of the sixteen stories, only three are by women - which is a shortcoming, I think, but not enough to avoid the book. What's more important is that climate change is being discussed and written about, which will hopefully encourage the reader to consider both the facts and possibilities of this as an issue one day, or even today. It's far too easy to stick one's head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist, and several of these stories even reflect upon that, too.

(This is also why the Fantasy and Science Fiction genres rock. We also have Atwood, Bacigalupi, Kim Stanley Robinson, and dozens of other books regarding this topic out there on the shelves.)

The stories. Most of them will appeal to those who subscribe and devour those regularly published in F&SF. To my delight, there were also some that appealed to people like me. Not so much with the misdirection, but with the emotional weight they carried, or that they threw me off from the beginning and I never quite regained my ground, resulting in a meaningful read.

My favorite three: 

Gregory Benford's "Eagle."  Even though I read it a week ago, I still remember how I felt when I was finished the last sentence, sitting in my favorite chair at the coffee shop. Power is a funny thing; who has it, who doesn't, and who should have it. And where's the line, when it comes to the health of our world? I wasn't certain what to think, or if I had even been rooting for the right person, which made me uncomfortable, and made the story memorable, perhaps for a long time to come. 

"The Bridge," by George Guthridge. It horrified me once I finally got into it, as the content isn't for those that shy away from the ugly, and the unhappy, non-storybook endings. Not quite as brutal as Paul Haines' novella "Wives," from the X6 anthology of last year, but a distant cousin.

Paul di Filippo's "FarmEarth." I went into this story with certain expectations, as di Filippo's writing isn't for a reader like me. This story started off with unusual words and flippant narrative, yet I was so interested to find out what he wasn't telling us that I was drawn in despite myself. Before I realized it, the story got bumped up to my top five of the collection. And even in the last few days, I've found myself thinking about what di Filippo was saying, and how quickly we as a culture are so quick to believe what anyone tells us, without thinking for ourselves.

All in all, it's a varied and worthwhile read. Add it to your anthology collection!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring has sprung!

That's right, tax hell is OVER. And I have no more excuses, which is why I'm working through the next revision chapter of Harvester the book (funny how much someone wanting to be a beta reader pushes you off the couch - thank you, Wendy! I so owe you), proofing Lightspeed content, reading slush, sending my rejected stories back out into the world, and finally (promptly) returning crits. And I will make good food again! There really is a way to abuse the pizza delivery man. Oh, so a blog entry. Here's the deal:

Go read Tom Crosshill's "Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son" in this week's Lightspeed. It's very...well, just read it yourself, so I don't have to give anything away.

Game of Thrones premiered on HBO on Sunday. I will admit I've never read the books, and I also preface this with the fact that I'm a hard sell for epic fantasy these days. (I'm plugging away through the second Rothfuss, but mostly because the alchemy stuff fascinates me, and John tells me it's worth it.) However, once you get past the "I am this kind of person and I live my life like so because I enjoy a, b, and c" lines, (which to be fair, are necessary for a new world - but oh, how annoying they are), it rocks. I'm fascinated by the White Walker everything, and the end absolutely HORRIFIED me. Like, to the point of tears horrified, and I wanted to do serious harm to the villain who did the serious crime.

We're in the second season of Deadwood, which is thrilling me. I am simply in awe of the writing, and not a damn complaint about the acting. A peer commented to me that he thought the second season was slow, but I'm not finding that the case at all; even the contrary, as the Wilcott/Chez Amis everything is...terrifying, for lack of a better description.

What's next? Oh, the next season of Dr. Who this weekend! I can't wait.

We saw Hanna two weeks ago. (Maybe Limitless this weekend, which fellow Fragment Ilan assures me is worth it.) Very entertaining, and the music was especially excellent. I wasn't too fond of Cate Blanchett, though; she didn't seem to fit the role (which I don't believe I've ever said about her before).

Reading: the Rothfuss, like I mentioned, and I've just finished Gordon Van Gelder's Welcome to the Greenhouse anthology, which I will blog about separately. I've started Daryl Gregory's Pandemonium, which is so far very accessible and entertaining, and Shimmer's new issue is waiting for me on the ipad.

What else? Oh, I started a Blood Elf Death Knight named Derne. And then I spent a week leveling up blacksmithing and mining because why the hell would I fly around the Outlands doing quests and NOT do my professions at the same time? A week, and like 3k gold, because that's the way it works. Thanks to Beris, the shadow priest sugar mama (who happens to be nearly all Bloodthirsty-geared out, with even some Vicious gear). Oh, and John has started a raid team, and we need members. (If you want to raid Monday/Wednesday nights and you're on Baelgun, hit me up. Apparently, we need one ranged DPS, two melee, and two healers.) Because, priorities.

No blog entry wouldn't be complete without food, so here is the curry laksa (or Moskowitz's version) from Appetite for Reduction. I've made a few other things from there in the last few weeks, but alas, this is the only picture. I'm really excited to make more from Veganomican, too. 
 
 

Oh, and eggrolls! With Morrocan rice. They were phenomenal. I should have put tofu in them, or more strips of egg, but oh well. The downside was that they definitely did not keep. While flavorful, they were scary soggy the next day. Oh, and the oil wasn't a plus, either. I'd like to try baking them next time. If that's even possible.


There's a bird singing outside my office here at work. I think I'll go back to the Harvester chapter.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Something is better than nothing

It seems like I will never catch up, but I will, soon, I keep telling myself. And I'm happy with the quick 700 words I rushed out this morning between tax returns, 700 words of the new story Molly and I are writing together! Very, very exciting. A Turkish post-apocalyptic Lovecraft-inspired thing, which could still go many directions. But 700 words is good for me these days. Soon, it will be many more.

Over the weekend, I finished "Seedlings." (Yes, the title keeps morphing slightly...) A little longer than I'd hoped for, about 8,200 words, but I think it can be cut down, too. I'm fairly confident in the structure, although it may follow the "rules" too much, which I've been thinking about lately. There are several formulas one can learn/follow in writing a short that will work, but if the rules are followed too closely, the short is predictable and not nearly as exciting as it could be (and this is, of course, taking into account that the plot actually holds weight and the writing is excellent, etc.). And then there are the stories that follow the rules, but do it so effortlessly and carefully that I sit and gape as I read, completely pulled in, and by the end I wonder what how the author managed to do that. Those are the kinds of stories I want to write (and read, for that matter). I suppose once you know the rules inside and out, then you can play with them more, and weave them into something different and new. I'm not quite there yet, but hopefully sooner rather than later, and "Seedlings" is a good place to start.

I stumbled upon a bit of a horrifying site this afternoon, horrifying and inspiring. Fairy tales get dumbed down too easily, but these pictures do the opposite, and really bring out the gruesome.

An Owomoyela's "All That Touches the Air" is up on Lightspeed this week - it gets better every time I read it. An excellent alien world.

Reading: I'm about a fifth? a sixth? through the second Rothfuss book. Egads, it's long. I'm not sure I'd be able to keep reading if it weren't for the alchemy details, and my wanting to know what will happen with Kvothe and Denna. There are just so many other books to read, and all of them so important!

It's getting hot here already. Over 85 degrees today, and windy as hell. I'm not impressed. And I desperately want a cupcake, which helps nothing. Or, that new Ben & Jerry's peanut butter kerfluffle (or something) ice cream, which is second only to Oberweiss' chocolate peanut butter, which I miss dreadfully.

***

The Anywhere but Earth table of contents is posted! "Lisse" is near the end, which is interesting...I can't wait to read these other stories!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Catching up

Finally, some great progress on Deadwalker, which is back to "The Seedling Garden." I got hung up on the ending over the weekend, and when I passed it to John for help, he pointed out that several elements were backwards in the worldbuilding, so I had to switch those around. It was very frustrating, and then I remembered that I've encountered this frustration on every story with different mechanics to the world - and that these mechanics don't always present themselves immediately. Or, now that I think about it, they never do. "The Light Stones" took a dozen (or more) rewrites to hammer itself out. So did Harvester the short. And the ending of "The Seedling Garden" isn't clear yet, but since I spent hours trying to clean it up yesterday, maybe the elements will work themselves into clarity. Here's hoping it will be slow day so I can make that happen. And because I have Lightspeed stories to read, and Fragment crits to do.

Took a break in the writing last night to do my first set of WoW PVP's two-on-two (two's) with John on Rhenza his rogue, and me with Beris my shadow priest. We got our asses handed to us in a few games; all my fault, of course, because I was so nervous and just kind of panicked, and level 85 or not, I'm still new to the game. But I'm starting to learn when do to what - fear, silence, psychic horror, shadowfiend, etc. - and we managed to win enough to cap my points for the week. And now the week has started over, so maybe tonight, too, depending on how much of "The Seedling Garden" I finish.

I finally took away the suitcase Kitty had been sleeping on upstairs, which now has a thick layer of cat hair over it. He simply found a new place.


Last night we had Chinese food and champagne - John got a new job, and finished the first prototype (there will be many, many  more in the future) of Carl the spider, his iPhone game! Very exciting. Sunday night, I went a little gungho with the Appetite for Reduction recipes. We had the Shaved Brussels Sprouts, the Broiled Blackened Tofu, and the Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples. The tofu was fantastic - tasted like chicken, honestly. I went a little light on the smoked paprika, since I don't care for it very much, and I managed to burn the sweet potatoes/apples exactly as Moskowitz says not to do in the book, because I got distracted. The Brussels sprouts were great - mine weren't crispy, but that's probably because I had used frozen, not fresh.


Either way, a fantastic meal. I just wish I had the time to make three things from that cookbook every night. I did order another of her cookbooks, Veganomicon, which I should be getting shortly.

Reading: I'm about halfway through Strahan's Best of SFF Volume 5, and I must admit, it's not what I had expected. It's entirely possible I'm getting more particular in my preferences, since that's the way I've been heading with all the SFF magazines, and creating strong opinions as to what I prefer to read regarding novels. But I've loved Strahan's "Best of" series more than any other out there, and of course every Eclipse anthology of his has just been stunning. This one, however, isn't doing much for me. The stories are very well written, and there's no shortage of excessive creativity, startling, in fact, and inspirational. But none have entranced me so far, which makes me a little sad. Nothing is better than a story that grips you from beginning to end. Doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it, though. The stories are excellent, and I'm sure will speak to others if not me.

We've also started FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which is now on Netflix. We had watched it online in subtitles as it was streaming back in 2009, and while it's dubbed now, the voices are excellent (albeit different), and the show is still excellent, and highly recommended; it has the typical anime silly moments, but the layering! And there is no attempt to sugarcoat anything. (The seven deadly sins are PEOPLE in this show. Well, homunculi. So go watch.) I had new ideas for the people around Heloise in Harvester the book, and how they're affected by her alchemy. What happens to them when she screws up, and is attempting to make the alloy work. It was very inspiring.

Now I just need more time.

Three more weeks of tax season!

***

Update on the reading status: go buy the Strahan antho I mentioned earlier. Maureen McHugh's story is fantastic. I just stared out in space about halfway through, a little shellshocked. I want to write more about it, but don't want to give out spoilers. And Diana Peterfreund's unicorn story is gorgeous - this is why I love YA writing so much. Well chosen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Clarion!

In the short amount of time I have today, I have two really exciting things to share. I wanted to do a large post about it, but yeah, the time factor, so this will have to do. Plus, "Parasite" needs to get submitted again (meaning I need to glance over it), as I received a kind, personal rejection from Abyss & Apex the other day. Hopefully I can find the right home for that story soon.

First, Clarion accepted me for the class of 2011!! I'm so happy about this. Thrilled to death. And, today I've worked out the financial details, so I'm even happier than when I got the acceptance email about two weeks ago and then had to sit on the news. This is really going to happen!

Second, I just stumbled upon a review Cat Rambo did of Destination: Future. I respect Cat's work a lot (I loved her "Amid the Words of War" for Lightspeed), and she says some really nice things:

Erin E. Stocks’ “The Light Stones,” moves in fantasy-ish direction, slightly flavored with Vance or Leiber-like overtones. Like so many of the other stories, it delights and provokes thought.

Yay!

Oh, AND, I finally found yellow split peas at the most gorgeous Whole Foods I've ever seen in my entire life last weekend in Chicago. Now I can make more of those vegan recipes I've been waiting to do (from Appetite for Reduction, naturally), since Moskowitz uses the yellow split peas as a thickener or replacement for flour.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Edges in short fiction

More on "Deadwalker," which is already over 8k. Eek! Another 2k and it's done, and then I brainstorm if and how to hack it down. But it's good to get some writing done that feels somewhat readable. Maybe I can finish the story this week.

And there is food, of course. This is the veggie potpie stew from Appetite for Reduction. Of course I didn't have yellow split peas, because they don't exist in Oklahoma. However, green split peas worked just fine, and didn't even mess up the color. (And I lacked frozen peas, too, but that's okay). Forgive the Tupperware - I forgot to take pictures of the real thing, and of the amazing loaves of golden French bread to go with. So this is what's left, full of vegan amazement. 


Then last night, we again had the Hottie Black-Eyed Greens (third time!) and the OMG Onion Rings (second!), which John made. And he did a way better job than me the first time - they were the best onion rings I have ever had. Vegan, too. (Almond milk!) With soy hot dogs - which taste exactly like the real thing - it was a phenomenal meal.

While I've brought it up, I cannot speak highly enough of the Hottie Black-Eyed Greens. I've pinned down my favorite way/proportions: lots of collard greens (I used two short-ish bunches), one eight-ounce can of tomato sauce, only one can of black-eyed peas, all the rest of the ingredients and a ton of hot sauce. Even John ate his before he touched his onion rings or hot dogs - and that says it all.


And, John's first batch of cookies ever. They were winners. I was so proud of him I took a picture.


I finished reading Holly Black's White Cat last night. I do love her writing, especially her short stories. I adored Tithe and Valiant so much so that they inspired lots of angst in my own YA books that haven't gone anywhere (yet), but to my surprise, White Cat wasn't what I expected. I never felt like I knew Cassel the way I wanted to - or that I was being narrated to by a 17-year-old boy. Her girl heroines were more edgy, more real, and Cassel read a little too...virginal. The whole book just seemed tame, although the content was interesting. And from a structural point of view, the book was pretty much flawless. She does everything right. Which could be why my attention wandered (or it could be the taxing-heh-work week that's sucked away my ability to concentrate). There was no push against boundaries that I appreciate (and look for), both in content and style, which nearly all her shorts do in some way. Case in point, see this week's Fantasy Magazine reprint of her short from The Poison Eaters. There's a brilliant edge to that story.

Speaking of edge, there's been some really great stories submitted to Lightspeed lately, with edge aplenty. A good plot, usually with some serious story crafting, but the envelope is pushed just enough in some way (of which there are countless), enough to grab the reader and not let them up (or make them teary, like a story in the slush did for me today). It's really exciting, and motivating.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Quick and more quick

I've been putting this off because I thought I'd have more time later in the week, but it's already Thursday, and I've got way too much to say and write and do, so here's we go:
 
Portabello mushrooms, potato pancakes (with sweet & sour sauce) and 49-clove broccoli (with added cauliflower), the latter two from Appetite for Reduction. Amazing. The potato pancakes were better the next day. I do think thinner and crispier is the way to go, compared to the ones below, but now I know. (And I may try them with olive oil in the future, rather than sesame. We'll see.)


Cutest cat in the world. Even with the two inch bloody scratch across my chest he gave me when I picked him up last night. And he knows he's not allowed on this blanket, because it makes him way too happy, and then not-good-things happen. But I couldn't bear to kick him off when he acts this cute.


And yesterday, I finally finished Kameron Hurley's God's War. I have a few serious nitpicks, including the fact that the religious war never really worked for me. I didn't once really feel the faith there, not the way I did in Dan Simmons' first two Hyperion books, with the Shrike and the obsession around it. That is the way to write religion. Also, some really frustrating lag in pace about one-fourth the way in; I can't say I've ever read a book like that before (versus the typical 3rd act lag). However, the pluses WAY outnumber the cons. The world is so jam-packed full of color and life and ugliness that this is really a must read for anyone who likes exotic worldbuilding or sucks at it and needs to get better. It's just breathtaking. On top of that is main character, Nyx, who is wonderfully hardcore, and Hurley lets everything possible hit Nyx like a sledgehammer, throwing curveball after curveball and it was a wild, exciting ride at some points. Real, brutal, and 100% believable. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, Hurley throws in unrequited love (or something like it) that left me hanging. Overall, a refreshing read, and very inspiring from a writing perspective.

Next up is Strahan's just-released Best of SFF Volume 5, which I'm really excited about, as I've only read a handful of what's in there already. At lunch today I managed "Elegy for a Young Elk" by Hannu Rajaniemi, which I really loved (so much color!) and "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains” by Neil Gaiman. More soon!

What makes me happiest of all is that Human Seedlings has a tentative new title: "Deadwalkers." The not so great part is that the short is looking to be 10k or so, instead of 5k like I'd hoped. But at least it's moving, and that feels great. And now to return all the crits I owe.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Makeshift muffins

Lots of baking/cooking this weekend, which I used as procrastination to keep me from hashing over some of the short stories I need to finish. Just like how I'm doing by blogging right now, although I did get in a really good hour on the Human Seedlings story. I was going to make a post tomorrow about the amazing food I was going to make tonight, but instead, we suddenly ordered pizza. Not picture worthy.

For breakfast on Saturday, I made banana-oat-flax-wheat muffin things, which use the same base as the carrot-apple-chocolate chip muffins I made a few weeks back. This time, I used 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup buckwheet flour, 1/2 cup oats, generous pouring in of flax seeds, 2 tsp baking soda (an accident - I intended to do 2 of powder, which I then followed up with; one tsp soda was in the original recipe), lots of cinnamon, chocolate chips, 1/4 cup (I'm just guessing here) agave nectar, and maybe 3/4 cup (another guess) soy milk, a little olive oil, and two mushed bananas. Mix it all up, pop it in the oven at 350. I used my little Valentine's Day pans, which needed 20 minutes. Muffin tins are 12-15 minutes, and bread loaves, maybe 30 minutes? Or whenever the toothpick comes out clean.

Either way, delicious and healthy.


And now back to Human Seedlings, and then some WoW, I think, because Beris is level 83 already, which is very exciting. Also, some new anime shows we downloaded - if they're any good, I'll definitely be writing about them. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday mush

My head is full of mush this morning - a combination of too much tax dithering and a computer screen, which wasn't aided by my joining Twitter yesterday (@erinstocks). If I knew it was that much fun, I would have joined long ago.

But on to more important things, like reaching 80 on my shadow priest. Now Cataclysm quests! And better gear. And soon I will be as good as everyone else.

Gingery noodles with tofu last night - a lovely vegan dish:


One of the best meals I may have ever had. And yes, from Appetite for Reduction. I did cheat with the tofu, since I bought it pre-marinated in a light peanut sesame sauce. The noodles were supposed to be soba, but I only had udon and lo mein, so I opted for the former, mixed with sauteed bok choy, red onion, garlic, fresh ginger, some sesame oil for fun (sesame seeds would be fun, too, although neither the oil nor the seeds are in the actual recipe) and...that's all I remember, but there could have been one to two more ingredients. And a ton of sriracha. Broiled the tofu 4 minutes or so on each side, so it has a lovely coating while soft in the middle. Astoundingly good, environmentally friendly, and no painful deaths involved. Wins all around.

I seriously need to do some writing today. And then think about meals for this weekend, because Molly sent me cookbooks!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And a Lightspeed Quickie

My brain is full of mush, but I had 2 important things to say, both Lightspeed related:

1. Maggie Clark's "Saying the Names" our first piece of March fiction. A gorgeous piece with some father-daughter drama thrown in, alongside a very well-thought-out alien world and a culture full of sounds. I love it more and more every time I read it.

2. Donato Giancola's featured gallery in the March artist spotlight. If you peruse his website, you'll see a lot of really stunning art, but I found myself particularly taken with several of the pieces in the gallery, including "Shaman's Loss," which makes me just stop and stare and think and almost hurt, in a way. You can see the loss straight through the screen - it's a story waiting to be written. The next one, "Vast Oceans of Truth," I also found appealing. I wanted to know the story behind it. Or write my own, about an ocean filled with truth. The possibilities are endless.

And as a bonus, another Genevieve Valentine non-fiction article, which, like her others, is consistently witty and entertaining alongside providing a point of view you've likely never considered.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Quickie but a Goodie

A short yet hearty review of "The Light Stones," which was exciting for me. I never found the story creepy much (whereas others of mine have had that effect on me), but I can see how worms invoke that sensation in others.

And, mushroom cannelinis and caulipots.


While I thoroughly enjoyed my leftovers today for lunch, I wasn't as thrilled with the initial meal on Saturday. I believe the caulipots (cauliflower, tiny golden potatoes, veggie broth) just needed more salt, and the mushroom cannelinis perhaps fresh dill on top, and lots of it, rather than the dried dill that I used. Just more flavor, and that leafy green-ness that gives things a fresh, crisp taste.

Reading lately: Over the weekend, I made it about twenty-five pages through Amanda Downum's The Bone Palace before I put it down, although I'm willing to say it's me, not the book. As much as I love the idea of a third gender and necromancy and royal suspicions, I wasn't interested enough, nor driven crazy by hooks like I hope for every time I pick up a new book. Maybe it's too traditional for my current tastes? But today I did buy Kameron Hurley's God's War, which I've been looking forward to for awhile now. And I was still hooked five pages later. The writing lacks a certain lyrical eloquence, but more than makes up for it in color and grit and blood, and I'm perfectly willing to make that trade. Also, Holly Black's White Cat, which is finally in paperback. I managed to resist Jo Walton's Among Others, because it's hardcover - we'll see how long I can hold off on that one.

There's more I want to dither on about, including the AMAZING Caitlyn R. Kiernan reprint I read yesterday, which John Joseph Adams may publish in Lightspeed. I really hope he does - the writing is simply stunning. Someday I will write like that, no matter how much blood and sweat it takes. Anyway, we've been seeing a lot of really good slush submissions lately, too, several of which he's accepted, and I'm very eager to see published. Most of them have phenomenal worldbuilding, an exciting plot, and well-rounded characters that usually have some serious flaws, e.g., very human, and with the occasional AI thrown in. Keep 'em coming!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Randomness on animals, grief, and food

I went, like usual, to the coffee shop over lunch to read, where to my great relief I finally finished Eating Animals (and started something which proves to be dramatically different - Amanda Downum's The Bone Palace), as there's not much more I can handle of reading about the sheer for-profitness of factory farms. It's pretty obvious there's a problem when the animals available to us for consumption are so genetically altered that they can't reproduce - and this is the case with a lot of organic and "no drugs-added" meat, too, whatever "happier" means. Still altered, still neutered (and not just in a castrated way, but in a pumped full of shit way; if not that animal, then its parents) in a very wrong way. The book is a must read, at least for education purposes. The author makes an argument that we're not ignorant, we're choosing this - the facts are right in front of us. But I don't think that's completely true; I've never read a lot of this before, even though factory farms aren't anything new; they go back a lot further than ten years, and they just keep getting worse.

Anyway. Although it wasn't my intention, I'm well on my way to being vegan, too. I'm just not interested in participating in the madness. Shocking stuff.

Plus, I had almond milk for the first time this morning, with some gluten-free cocoa plus goodies granola, and it was ASTOUNDINGLY good. So now I just need to figure out a way around ice-cream (since I'm not quite up for indulging in soy non-stop.) Maybe sorbet.

***

There was an elderly woman with her daughter (who was maybe 45-50 years old) at the coffee shop over lunch today. The elderly woman was maybe 75 or so, with lots of white hair permed high on her head, and very pale skin, and unfashionable glasses. Not really one of the adorable grandmother types, but then she brought herself over a large mocha with frothy whip cream (that looked and smelled so good over my drip coffee), and I got up so she and her daughter could sit together, to which they were really, really grateful. I made some sort of pleasant-sounding excuse, and then quickly left because of the sudden wrenching grief that I would never go to a stupid coffee shop with Mom again. And how I should have 25 more years of her in my life. But instead, I got thirty-one, which isn't even close to enough, not when twenty-four or so of those were spent with me trying to figure out both myself and life, and not really understanding anything about it, or about her, or about the precious precocity of a mother-daughter relationship, especially a mother-middle-daughter relationship.

Earlier today I got an email from Dad about how the grief occasionally lessens, but never really goes away. I understand that completely - I can't compare my experience to his of losing the woman you've been married to for 40 years and 2.5 months, although mine feels similar, in a different way. Mom should have seen John and I get married, for so many reasons, and maybe because I was the last unmarried kid I feel really strongly about that. And she should have gotten to hold her grandbabies (if any of the four of us ever end up having kids...doesn't seem to be happening any time soon, so even Dad dotes everything on his dog because of that), and see where we live, and read my writing. She never got to read my published writing. She doesn't know about Lightspeed, which happened after she died. She doesn't know Becky and Neal have beautiful baby Karsten (Becky and Neal were the only married friends of mine whose names she could remember, because of Alaska), or about our little Nellie, or that I got a promotion at work a few months ago. And occasionally, the flash of grief is so strong that I'm breathless, like I was just kicked in the gut really, really hard.

***

Some terrific food in the last two days. Unfortunately, the pictures aren't very appealing, but I'm posting them anyway.


What you can't see clearly in the above is the amazing Bhutanese rice, from the Appetite for Reduction cookbook (naturally), with cilantro on top. I used Moroccan red rice as the base, and added all the ingredients to that, which included coconut milk and fresh pineapple (I had a Harry & David pineapple perfectly ripened!), as well as red curry paste and onion and garlic and I can't remember what else. Then I marinated some portabello mushrooms, which were even more tender and juicy than steak, and some cabbage.


And the above was the OMG onion rings - which were !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! UNREAL. Yes, they were. I will never have any other onion rings again. I made the hottie black-eyed greens with kale, but they weren't quite as good as the first round, which I had made with collards. I adore kale, but the flavors didn't sit as well this time, which I thought at lunch again when I had the leftovers. So collards in the future, with this recipe. (And veggie hot dogs in the background - which taste JUST like real hot dogs! Especially when grilled. And you actually know what they're made of.)

Off to bill more tax returns! Less than two months of this left. I'm so relieved it's Friday.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vegan Take 2

No time for my rambling today, as I have eighteen million things to accomplish in the next hour, but two very important things to say first:

1. Go read the James Patrick Kelly reprint up at Lightspeed today, "Breakaway, Backdown." I really appreciated it for the main character's perspective of space without trying too hard to be too dramatic. Plus, it's refreshing without throwing in too many cliche space details like mining, random ships, colonies, etc., and has a lot of real heart, probably from everything said between the lines.

(Oh, and yay, two Lightspeed stories were nominated for Nebulas!)

2. And this:

The picture is a little blurry, but you get the idea. Again, from the Appetite for Reduction book I dithered on about yesterday, two recipes respectively called Hottie Black-Eyed Greens and Mashed Ginger Apple Potatoes, or something like that. I could eat the greens forever, too. FOREVER. With more hot sauce. I am truly flabbergasted (yes, really) by what I've made so far - I can't wait for dinner tonight.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vegan amazement

Crazy tax madness! To which I have sought sanity by obsessively leveling up my undead shadow priest, Beris, in WoW. I'm having a lovely time, made even better by all of John's friends that play with us, too. Beris is level 72, and even though John keeps telling me to take my time and enjoy the process, I'm anxious to get to 85 so I can raid with them, and also so I can create a death knight, which will be my reward.

But my current obsession lies with a recent discovery of the cookbook Appetite for Reduction, thanks to my friend Molly. She's been commenting on FB as she works her way through the cookbook, and while I've thought wow, that sounds amazing, I hadn't been too sold on the idea of vegan eating. It seems so extreme, not to mention how much I adore cheese (although lately, I've been uncomfortable with where my cheese and milk comes from....I just don't trust the way products are sold to us, now with what I'm learning). But we went to Borders the other night, and I picked up a copy and immediately fell in love as we waited in line. I adore the way Moskowitz writes the recipes like she's talking out loud to you, (and you are, of course, her good friend), and it certainly wins big points with me that she has both PCOS and hypothyroidism, too, just like me. And, the recipes aren't jammed full of gluten - also helpful, since I have approximately zero ability to say no thank you to it.

The taste is what ultimately rules. Last night I made the chickpea piccata sans capers, as I had none, although I can imagine they'd add SO much. The piccata is supposed to be served on a bed of arugula, but since I didn't feel like going to the store, we had it on an herbed lettuce mix, although I'm sure arugula would have held up better under the heat. I also added a lot of flax seeds for fun.


And then the polenta stuffing, which was like crack, even without thyme (I keep forgetting I'm out of it.) I just added more sage and cracked pepper.


It was unreal - I want to write that I had no idea food could taste this amazing, but that just sounds silly. Yet...still. No butter, no cheese, no dairy at all, and so unreal. Best of all, very affordable, easy ingredients, thirty minutes or so to cook, at most. And unbelievably healthy (she also includes the nutritional stats, although I don't usually pay attention to that...although I probably should...)

And then banana chocolate chip bread (not from that book, of course...) for dessert - 1.5 cups flour, 1 egg, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 mushed super ripe bananas, lots of chocolate chips, and 1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup splenda, I know, I know, and lots of agave nectar - no idea on measurements). Bake 60 minutes at 350, and that was that.


Tonight we're going to try 2 more things from Appetite for Reduction: the gingered sweet potato/apple hash, and the hottie black-eyed greens. I can't remember the last time I was this excited to make a meal. Well, except for last night.

And then the rest of the night, we drank wine and played WoW and watched Deadwood. What an amazing show - I can't believe it's taken me this long to see it. I'm so unbelievably fascinated by the stories introduced, the characters, especially Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane (which we proceeded to look up and educate ourselves about, since I've forgotten everything I may have learned in grade school about them). And the other characters! Some of the best writing I've ever seen/heard (?), and far better than Battlestar Galactica - I feel like a traitor for saying that, but it's true. And of course being set in the Black Hills just makes my heart sing. Also tacky-sounding, but I miss home. SD will always be home, until...it's not anymore, I guess.

Anyway, I probably drove John a bit crazy because I sat there and informed him of every single geographical spot they mentioned and where it factored in with Rapid City and South Dakota as a whole. Yes, I did. And we've only seen 2.5 episodes (yes, we stopped in the middle, but that's WoW's fault...) So more of that tonight, which I'm VERY excited for.

Lots of taxes today, and I'm thinking about a short I started awhile back, one of those that stalled out, and wondering if there needs to be serious alien contact/interference/drama in it - maybe that would bring the story back up to the front burner.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lizard Dance

Oh, it's been too long, but this time, I have an excuse - the nasty flu, which hit eight out of ten people in my office. I'm still choking on phlegm, which is going on eleven days. And that's about all I'll say about that.

But what I DID want to bring to attention today is one of my favorite short stories to appear in an SFF magazine in the last few months: Gio Clairval & Jeff VanderMeer's "Lizard Dance," which appears today in Fantasy Magazine. I was lucky enough to get to read this story from the first incarnations to final, and it's just as moving today as it was that first time. Go, read!

In an unrelated note, over the weekend, I read about how most cows are slaughtered. Did you know they're all (mostly) alive as they're skinned and their legs are cut off, and sometimes still conscious? Less blood in the meat! (This is why if you can't give up meat, kosher is great. A quick throat slash, and over. No pain. No torture.)

We had soy lasagna on Saturday night, with freshly made French baguettes. We had eaten half of it before I remembered I wanted to take pictures. But the soy tasted exactly like hamburger, with the right spices added: basil, oregano, parsley, some red pepper flakes, and the consistency was perfect. Choose soy! Unless you know where your meat came from. Although, of course, even the happy non-factory-farmed meats aren't guaranteed happy slaughtering, which is just one more sad thing about the whole meat-eating experience, and terrible factory farming, which is all about profit. If we raise animals for food, I believe they deserve happy lives.

I was talking with John about this over the weekend - what it's like to know all this information, and where it leaves us now. I feel a great deal of sadness over my ignorance, specifically in the last ten years or so, when I realized I don't really digest gluten, and so I went protein-crazy (or no-carb), like most of the diet crazes today. What if I had just known about this? What if I had just been aware? There's no way I would have eaten meat, and I'd be going on ten years of vegetarian living instead of a month. And it makes me want to pass this book around, and say, just read it. Then, no matter what you decide, at least you can say you're not ignorant. Although, in the long run, it's up to each person to educate themselves...

***

I'm in a bit of a writing slump. I'm not sure if its emerging tax-season panic, or just ambivalence at my current view of the markets, and those who seem to be calling the shots. One of my friends (who is an excellent, excellent speculative fiction writer) mentioned to me the other day that the markets are seeming inbred and bloodless, as the people who are reading the SFF magazines are SFF writers, learning what these SFF magazines like to publish, writing that way, and it's an endless roundabout of same-genes and ideas. With a few exceptions, I completely agree with him, and I think I've been trying to tailor my writing to fit that, (when it really doesn't), or twist a certain piece in a way it doesn't want to be twisted. That's one of the reasons I've found stories like "Lizard Dance" so captivating, because it doesn't fit that mold (which is appropriate for Gio & VanderMeer, who, separately, defy molds on a regular basis). And tomorrow on Lightspeed, Ken Liu's "Simulacrum" will be up, which I thoroughly enjoyed as well (just as good, if not better, as his "Tying Knots" for Clarkesworld, which I caught in a moving audio version.) The good, daring, unique stuff is out there - you just have to look a little harder.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowed in

This city shuts down when there's snow, even the times there's less than three inches, although yesterday, we probably got 6-8 or so, with wind and drifts. It's a little ridiculous, made even more so by the fact that I think OKC even owns about three snowplows. No sanding or salting, either.

I won't complain too much, though, because having yesterday off was lovely. I did nothing but play my shadow priest and watch episodes of "The Office" and make food, like these put-everything-in-them-muffins, and amazing veggie meat/bean burritos with spicy guacamole for dinner.

Oh, and these from Monday night:


Spinach feta pockets. Or something. But I had some leftover phyllo dough, so I blanched about a pound of spinach (I'd do more, if you have it, as it cooks down so quickly) until it's slightly softened/wilted (but not soggy!), and make sure the water is good and wrung out. Saute an onion and lots of garlic, and combine with an egg, thyme, parsley, parmesan, and feta. Last, chop the spinach and add to mixture, then wrap in phyllo dough. I baked mine about twenty minutes on 350. Twenty-five might be better, so the outside is thoroughly browned. Comfort food (and slightly trashy), but good.

They were good the next day, too. I ate two of them cold for lunch. Hurray for cold leftovers!

For breakfast, there were fiberlicious muffins, which I think you can really add anything to, once you get the flour/liquid/soda combo down. The actual recipe is something like 1 cup whole wheat flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 cup milk/water, 1 tsp vanilla (naturally, I was out), 1 tsps cinnamon (I put probably 3 in) 1/4 cup flax seeds, 1/2 cup oatmeal, and shredded carrots, apples and chocolate chips. I took all of that, but there wasn't nearly enough sweetness for me, so I added probably 3-4 Tbsp of agave nectar, more chocolate chips, more oatmeal (3/4 cup?), flax seeds (3/4 cup), and shredded the rest of the apple & carrot. (Raisins, especially golden ones, would be great if you have them!) Oh, and water, because you don't want the batter too thick and chunky, although not watery, either. Bake fifteen minutes at 350 - any longer and they'll lose their moist texture.



They were really good. Fresh from the oven, with butter = crack. That's why there's only one left today (the batch above makes twelve or so).They're supposed to be just as tasty after freezing, too - just pop one in the microwave and nuke it for forty-five seconds.

I was going to take some pictures of the huge snow drifts outside, too, and of Nellie jumping in them (her first snow!) but it's so damn cold out that my eyes just water (apparently, I've become soft) and even the dogs don't want to be outside. So that's that.

Crits to do for friends, today, and maybe a few short stories to submit. Happy February!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Hyperion

A friend on facebook posted "I'm actually going to turn green and throw people today." That sounds very appealing to me, too, this morning.

I finally finished Hyperion, which I enjoyed a great deal. It was extraordinarily clever, with some lovely writing, and I got lost in the story in a way I haven't since VanderMeer's Shriek which I read last year, or maybe Kiernan's The Red Tree. I've read a lot of brilliant books since then, but not many that make me lose track of time, in which I don't consciously think "oh, this is good, but I think I'll put it down to play WoW." The only two stories that didn't do much for me were the last two, the private investigator and the Consul's. I'm not sure why - perhaps because they didn't have as much Shrike-ness as the previous ones did.

The best thing about Hyperion is that nothing is solved. I feel I've read only part 1 of the book (which is essentially the same thing that happens in all the VanderMeer Ambergris books. You never really know the truth of what happened in that city. Perhaps because most of the residents don't, either. Or because the massacres keep happening.), and now must find out the rest.

After the sequel, I'll need more novels. There are a few Datlow anthologies gathering dust on the floor, and an Interzone issue to read, but I really would rather read books right now, especially as I try to figure out how to write Harvester the book.

Went to my first hockey game on Saturday - OKC versus Chicago, and I rooted for Chicago all the way. They lost pretty badly; I think they were just smaller and less aggressive than OKC. I was a little surprised by the show of masculinity when a few of the players got into fistfights. John assures me it's normal, which makes sense if they're fighting over some bear one of them just killed that's supposed to feed their wife and five kids for the entire winter, asthey're trapped in due to five foot snow drifts. Okay, I can see that. But in an actual sporting match where you're shooting a puck back and forth? Come on. And then the crowd cheering them on? It was ridiculous, and seemed a little egotistical for my taste. But overall, the game was fun, and then we went to the Prohibition Room, where I had my first Sazerac. There was also delicious olive dip, an amazing vegetable sandwich, and a margherita pizza.

Last night I made a few things from my new vegetarian cookbook, including a fantastic mushroom-shallot soup. Very easy - saute shallots, garlic, then lots of mushrooms, and add milk, veggie broth and cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Blend together, then put back in the pan with some sour cream. I didn't have any, so I put in a little more milk, and that was that. Just fantastic.

I also made spicy carrot gnocchi with mint cream sauce, which was amazing. I halved the recipe, which is a pound of carrots (steam/boil/bake, whatever, until soft), a half cup of feta (yep, that's a lot, I know) and process together. I had to mush them, since a food processor is next on my list to buy. Then sift in nutmeg, salt and pepper, garam masala, and 3/4 cup of flour. Oh, and half an egg.

I refrigerated the teaspoon sized gnocchi (mine were more like giant spoon-sized) for awhile, then boiled them later until they floated to the top of a pan of salted water. For the sauce, I sauteed green onions, garlic, and shredded mint in a little cream. It was amazing.


I'm hoping for a snow day tomorrow - 5-10 inches expected here, although the OKC weathermen seem to be very dramatic and also somewhat unreliable. I also have a new story idea, which could be a welcome break from Harvester.

Monday, January 24, 2011

More of "Lisse"

And officially, on Coeur de Lion's blog:

On the reading front, we passed the 200 submission mark as we teetered into 2011. Accepted stories stand at 18 now, weighing in at 107,000 words but there’s still room, and a few promised manuscripts from some heavy hitters are still to taxi onto my desk. As of last update, I’ve accepted another four stories, so the following will be joining our already illustrious ranks:
‘Oak with the Left Hand’ by Tristan Davenport
‘Pink Ice in the Jovian Rings’ by Colum Paget
‘Beneath the Floating City’ by Donna Maree Hanson
‘Lisse’ by Erin Stocks.
Anywhere But Earth is due to be released in the second half of 2011.

Very exciting!

John and I finished the fifth season of Dr. Who over the weekend, which we thoroughly enjoyed. As I think back, I'm really not sure how Amy's memory could restore his (and the Tardis') existences, but...details, right? Plus, it says something that I didn't think about that until now, two days after we watched it. I was just so happy he was back. And I admit to being very, very curious about River Song and who she is, although I really didn't care much about her until the last 2 episodes or so, when I finally gave in and accepted the fact that Amy and the Doctor really won't get together.

More work on Harvester the novel, which is slowly ticking along. Too slowly, but it's something, and I'm trying to be content with what it is, and not judge it right out of the box.  In WoW, I'm trying out the holy spec of my priest, and I'm terrible at it. But it's great fun, especially in dungeons. As long as I don't let everyone die (which has happened twice now...)

Tonight, beef stew for John, and sweet potato-pear soup for me, with rye bread I made yesterday. It's only been five days, officially, without meat, but I feel really, really good. Currently reading "Eating Animals," which is mostly depressing and horrifying, and I can only take it in small doses.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lisse

The anthology Anywhere but Earth, by the Coeur de Lion Australian publishers (who also published that great anthoX6), has accepted my latest short, "Lisse." I'm thrilled about this, as they were my first choice for this story, not to mention the fact that Lisse was written and critted in December, subbed the first week of January and then accepted on my first submission. It's the quickest turnaround I've had yet, and makes me feel like I'm doing something right, or at least I stumbled upon something right with that story.

Speaking of X6, I can't believe I didn't blog about it. I purchased it the end of March last year, and it was one of the highlights of my year in reading for 2010. I looked on the Fragment forum to see I had written this about it (which I have now edited slightly, for public eyes):

I liked the Lanagan, which made me weep, (the Sparks was a little predictable although enjoyable, the others weren't for me) and the Haines, which made me so angry I wanted to bash my head into the wall, and I had to remind myself that buying a ticket to Australia and approaching Haines wouldn't fix my anger nor the problem, which of course was just in a story. Mostly. And him writing this novella doesn't make him a terrible, evil man who should be punished in a chasm of screaming nettles heaped with fiery coal and brimstone and emasculating poisons. It instead makes him an amazing writer, to be able to tap into such unbelievable gender issues, and make them so vivid for one reader that she's about to go all ape-shit on him.

I will never, ever forget the Haines, and probably never the Lanagan, for her lovely take of selkies, and I encourage every SFF writer to buy that novella anthology. I'm very happy that "Lisse" will likely be among good company in this new anthology.

In the meantime, Harvester-book writing & edits are ticking along, as is the new little human seedlings story; both a little too slowly, as I've been procrastinating, doing Lightspeed stuff, and real work, probably in that order. Both John and I feel like we're in a holding pattern, waiting for what happens next - getting that acceptance letter for him which will determine if and when and to where we're moving, in addition to all the other subs I have out there, and the Clarion applications.

It's Friday. Which means lots of shadow priest playing in WoW, and sleeping in, and I'm going to try to make bread, and get creative about meals without meat. More on the process of becoming a vegetarian later, when I'm certain it's right for me.

Reading! I didn't care too much for the latest Realms of Fantasy - just didn't do anything for me, story-wise. Finished Holly Black's Poison Eaters, which ended a little weakly for me, although I'm willing to concede and say it's me, and perhaps my preferences are changing. And I am LOVING Dan Simmons' Hyperion. Loving it, to my honest surprise. It was a little slow to get going, but the priest's tale was WONDEROUS (yes, it deserves caps), as was the lieutenant's. The poet, not so much - I'm having some trouble getting into it, but I'm still hopeful.

A Karen Joy Fowler collection is coming in the mail. That's up next.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Novel inspiration

So what I wanted the most, and dreaded, too, finally happened - inspiration, thanks to Molly (managing editor of both Lightspeed & Fantasy Magazine). I wrote about 40k on Harvester the novel last year, adding a little here and there, but ran out of steam, and the interest in working on it. Two days ago, Molly read Harvester the short and suggested a past/present kind of thing, and suddenly, everything clicked. I don't know how it's going to work, and honestly, it's terrifying, because all the fear of failure and possibility with a novel is a million times that of a short. If a short doesn't work, meh, you've lost a month, or more. If a novel doesn't work, that's years - and this will be my fourth. So...yes.

But this one is different, in that I've got the whole story in my head already, a clear path, and ideally, I will have learned something from the last three. I'm almost done with the first "past" chapter, which has a color similar to "Child of Fortune, Child of Labor." It needs more, of course, but that will come. Now I just have to figure out how to work on both this and the Seedlings story, which already has about 4k words.

In the meantime, work is driving me a little crazy, which doesn't bode well for the next few months. I've also decided to take on some half-marathon training (again) - there's one in Chicago in August, for multiple myeloma (Mom's cancer), on the date of her death. Can't really be any more significant. However, I'm trying to keep in mind that the day after is more important - our second wedding anniversary - so maybe that's not the way to spend the weekend. Plus, depending on the new few weeks, and the almost-positive move in our future (!!!!! more news soon!!!!), it may not even work out. But the training will be good for me, both for something to focus on, and to get rid of work stress and all the Christmas martinis I consumed.

I went to the nature preserve a few days ago, and had a lovely walk (before the cold unusual to OK struck - it's 20 degrees right now, a la Chicago winter). There were these blotches of color amidst the trees - so pretty.





Things I've read lately: Black Static #19, which wasn't nearly as good as 18, in my opinion. I've still got issues on Interzone and BS on the ipad, which I must catch up on. I'm halfway through Holly Black's The Poison Eaters, which I'm enjoying, although not as much as I hoped. I suspect its because my own little YA stories meet my YA wants more so. But I did really like "In Vodka Veritas." There should be more stories like that.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Human Seedlings

1300 words on the new short this morning. I'd like to write more, but something in it is making me restless, and I wonder if I should switch to some reading/critting. I worked most of the story out in my head earlier at the gym, listening to the same music that begat "Parasite" and "Lisse," although this story is as different as those are from each other, and spawned from a brief round of quests in some WoW village that I can't even remember, where this screenshot was taken.



How can one not write a story about that? But this story isn't quite turning out the way I'd hoped - I'm not sure if that' s good or bad. Either way, it's nice to have something new after the recent string of rejections. As far as those, I've made some revisions, sent most of them out again, and am still mulling over possible "Harvester" edits, and am hitting a dead end. Hopefully something will reveal itself soon.

I played my first few battlegrounds matches in the last few days on WoW - and am dreadfully terrible. I strongly suspected I would be, but considering my decency on the Xbox, specifically with Halo, it's humbling to see how truly bad I am at WoW, especially on my rogue Nanane, as rogues are a complex and subtle class. I want to get better, but I don't have nearly as much fun with Nanane as my priest Beris, who I'm leveling up with one of John's character's, and a character of his friend's DJ's. Speaking of John & DJ, they have a WoW blog where they discuss their arena matches. It's funny, and not surprising, how many people in the SFF world play this game. About time I caved in.

Of course now, I have to manage my time between the Xbox game Dante's Inferno (which has also influenced the new short, full of characters like a writhing Cleopatra, penitent Pontius Pilate, helpful Virgil, and endless demons) and WoW. The decisions to make.

I also just finished the new Sirenia Digest, #61, I believe, of Caitlyn R. Kiernan's. Any Kiernan fan should immediately subscribe - it's worth every penny. I loved the story "-30-." Loved it. It's that fulfilling kind of read that I look for in every short: beautiful writing, meaningful, well-rounded, and leaves the reader with a little ache from its honesty.

Wednesday good news - I'm now an Assistant Editor at Lightspeed Magazine! It's been a quick year since LS has opened; a quick, unbelievably rewarding year.

Next up, I need to read some good novels. So many shorts, not enough novels.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Beginnings

While it's far from original to talk about what I accomplished and what I didn't this last year, I've decided that doesn't matter, since I want to up my consistency on this blog. I'm foregoing half of my morning pages in order to write this; I was going to put it down on paper, so I might as well put it here. Maybe this will make it just a little more real, giving it a sort of clairvoyance that is typically never apparent to anyone but me when it's only my morning pages notebook.

After 2009, which held so many new things that I could hardly function - culture shock in moving to OKC from Chicago, leaving my dearest friends behind, new job, Mom getting sick and dying, marrying John the day after, Grandma Lil having a stroke on Thanksgiving and dying, snowed in and unable to be with family on Christmas (sounds overly dramatic, but I really needed my family that first holiday without Mom) - there was 2010, which found me in a stupor most of the time. I finally had about 3 months of grief counseling in the spring, which both helped and didn't (which is why it only last 3 months), and learned quite a bit about myself in the meantime. The last two years really go together, as two years ago to the day was when I'd left Chicago, and life changed so drastically.

Accomplishments: I did do a lot last year, despite that numbness. Less involvement in OWW because I threw myself into Lightspeed Magazine. Lots and lots of crits for the Self-Forging Fragments. I read voraciously (I'm going to start keeping track of what I'm reading, I think; I've been slack on that), especially the first 2/3rds of the year, as the last third I mostly read both online and print SFF magazines, which really took up quite a bit of time. I miss novels, so more of those this year.

But not only did I complete a hasty revision of Stone Lake, (for a trusted peer to peruse and point out its flaws), I finally finished "Round Robin" and "Child of Fortune, Child of Labor," the latter taking up nearly the first third of the year, having starting back in September 2009, likely both because it was the first serious story after Mom died, and its length of 15k and hard SF content.

New stories: "Stars through the Window," "Parasite," "Lisse," and "The Harvester," which just received an Editor's Choice review on OWW, and a lovely, lovely review from Karen Meisner of Strange Horizons. Harvester the novel has about 40k words on it, also written in the first part of 2010, but I've temporarily shelved it. Funny, the first book that I've outlined nearly all the way through, but I have no desire to work on it anymore. I'm not sure why; I wish it weren't the case.

There were also revisions on "Bringing Moon," "Braeberry Street," and "Skinned," and October saw "Becoming Normal" published in Flash Fiction Online. I even revised "The Voicing" for Daily Science Fiction - a new venue which continues to be an inconsistent mystery - and have put "Fish out of Water" aside, until I can figure out how to fix it. There are also a handful of started shorts with no titles, some a page long to one that may be the next completed one, as it already has 4k words, "The Escalarian Bead."

This year, I'd like to double the number of new stories. I think its possible, given that I'm not so stooped over in grief, unless, of course, I find some new SF idea that I want to tackle, which ends up taking me months to figure out. And ideally, I'd like to work on/finish a book - but that seems to be out of my hands.

Also, I'm working on trying to be content with where I am, both in writing, and literally so - in this state, with this job, and with all the blessings I have. I am exactly where I'm supposed to be.

However, this year has dealt a number on us. John's grandpa, who's been like a father to him, was just diagnosed with prostate cancer yesterday. And I found out this morning that my great-aunt Norma, my sweet grandma Lil's sister, died suddenly of a stroke. Norma was always such a sweet woman - I got to see her this last summer at the family reunion...she looked so much like Grandma Lil. Although I may not have been that close to her, it's the consistency with which I keep losing my family that's the hardest to handle. Mom, Grandma, Auntie Norma...I guess I was protected from death growing up, despite my grandparents dying. I'm starting to understand that death is a normal, consistent thing, although that doesn't help when someone who has always been in your life is suddenly not there anymore.

The dogs are curled up in the sun next to me. I wish I had my camera. The tornado sirens are going off (as always, Saturdays at noon). Soon, Buddy will hopefully howl. He's inconsistent with it, and his howl is hilarious, because its a little awkward-sounding, as if he's uncomfortable while doing it.

Today, we're finally going to see the movie Black Swan. And I need to start drawing more. I bought John a sketch pad for Christmas, and myself a cheap little one yesterday. I need broader horizons. And I must figure out what to put in the beautiful slow cooker for dinner. Mom's one-pot stew might be in order.